(this post was originally published on 21/08/2013 on a previous blog)
Kick-Ass 2 is more like 3 sequels wrapped in to one film rather than one individual follow on film, for most films that’s a scary thought. Never mind a sequel to highly successful independent cult film about a teenager and a small girl getting the living piss kicked out of them. It’s an ever bigger challenge when you consider that Kick-Ass 2 may have (mostly) the same original cast, crew, production hands and stars, however they are joined by a brand new writer/director. Luckily Wadlow and the gang manage to do a very good job of living up to the cult hype of the first film with an independent blockbuster that, whilst not perfect, is an incredibly over the top, action flick with some brilliant writing, marvellous characters, stunning acting and all round good fun.
It’s been three years since the original Kick-ass film and whilst in terms of their looks you can tell the time has passed, judging on character alone, you would hardly be able to tell. Aaron Taylor-Johnson fits snuggly back in to the slightly less pathetic, but still a social outcast, Dave Lewinski and his alter ego; Kick Ass. Chloe Grace Moretz is also back as foul mouthed, brutal but loveable, Mindy Macready and her alter ego: Hit Girl. Both Character’s experience even more in this film with Hit Girl’s high school soul searching becoming the least entertaining of the film’s three subplots, however between Kick Ass’s “disco stick”, the dirtiest high school dance you’ll see in the cinemas this year and a vomit/diarrhoea machine, this super-esque take on the archetypal “mean girls” story is still extremely good fun and adds another level of dimension to Moretz’s already marvellous character.
The movie’s other subplot’s involve Dave trying to find out where Kick Ass fits in to the newly saturated super hero scene, that his first outing inspired. Meanwhile Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s character goes from being a spoilt brat to being a spoilt brat/failed rapist/self inflicted orphan with a shark. If the end of that sentence didn’t tell you the film can be both absurdly dark and just absurd, but no matter how ridiculous the plot gets the characters are never dislikeable, in fact I have more love for Mintz-Plaase’s The Motherfucker then I ever had for red mist. Along with this it’s nice to see the characters grow in new ways rather than just stagnating in good guy/bad guy roles. In fact more than just growing here the motivations are basically flipped and by the end of the film the motivations for Kick Ass and The Motherfucker are basically the same. This is down to some very clever writing and a dark, shocking plot twist that Wadlow handles extremely well.
Admittedly not all of the film holds up so well, there is a plot issue or two but nothing major by any means. The film does have some problems with pacing as sometimes the three stories being told converge or reach a specific point and whilst the individual story may be better for it, the pacing of the film as a whole suffers somewhat, However overall the plot is pretty solid. There are moments where it strays in to absolutely ridiculous territories and a few grating moments (such as the boy band scene, where the concept and themes are solid but the execution and tone is jarring) but if you didn’t expect a few ridiculous moments in a Kick-Ass film then you were watching the wrong movie. As absurd and gritty as the movie can be it is consistently enjoyable and funny.
There is only one major way in which the movie struggles. The first Kick-Ass film was an exploration of what it would be like to be a proper wannabe superhero in a world of big real bad guys, Kick-Ass was a less then capable kid in a tight fitting costume with a MySpace page and a lot of courage. He gets lucky and joins a duo who are more than capable and have been spending their lives training to do what Kick-Ass aspires to but one thing is clear the whole way through the movie. This is the real world, you can get hurt and there are consequences to your actions. Whereas Kick-Ass 2 tries to hard, through dialogue usually, to make this clear to the characters who find themselves in ever more ridiculous situations. I personally never found myself wanting the darker action of the first film, in fact I found far more enjoyment in the final, over the top, set piece fight scenes towards the end of the film. But whilst the original Kick-Ass conveyed the danger of the real world effortlessly Kick-Ass 2 has to put far more effort in reminding the audience “this is the real world” “this aint a comic book” and I could have done with those phrases being used less frequently.
This film is in every way possible an expansion of the original Kick-Ass, the cast is bigger, the narrative is bigger, the fight’s are huge and the characters are no longer as childlike as they used to be. The story of Kick-Ass is no longer about one nerdy kid whose in the right place in the right time, it’s about one kid whose courage inspires a whole city to become “real” superheroes. For this reason it would be hard for the movie to stay as grounded , however it is still a realist angle on the superhero genre, It still feel’s like a Kick-Ass film. The action is visceral, the characters are extremely well written, well acted (kudos to Jim Carrey who is absolutely stellar as Colonel Stars And Stripes, and Christopher Mintz-Plaase who surpasses his performance in the first film and is a joy to watch on screen) and very relatable and the humour is dark, crude and ridiculously funny. Kick-Ass is still a nerdy dude, who somehow manages to get a girl, beat a few people up and maintain a name for himself. Hit girl is still a foul mouthed, purple wig wearing, innocent looking girl who’s hobbies include murdering and riding a motorcycle. The plot can be a bit twisty and the message of the first film is not the same as the message in this sophomore effort but ultimately I found myself having as much fun with Kick-Ass 2 as I did with Kick-Ass 1 and so whilst it is not a perfect film it ceratinly lives up to the original and tells an equally exciting, touching, funny, ridiculous and enjoyable a story.
Overall on a 100 point scale I would score Kick Ass 2: